Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Review

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a sporty, fun, inflatable kayak that seats one person. The ultraportable design and fast setup make it easy to take anywhere, while the rugged vinyl construction means you’ll be able to enjoy it at your favorite lakes and rivers year after year. It’s fun, simple, and affordable. What more could you ask for?

In this Intex Challenger K1 Review, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at why it’s so popular with anyone looking to buy affordable kayaks.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Overview

The Intex Challenger K1 has everything you need to enjoy time on the water. Designed for lakes and calmer rivers, it inflates in mere minutes. The sturdy I-beam floor, rugged vinyl material, removable skeg, and included kayak paddle give you everything you need to feel stable and safe in the water. 

The comfortable inflatable seat and cockpit, integrated grab lines and cargo nets, and high visibility design keep you comfortable and secure for hours of boating. And the whole boat packs down into an included heavy-duty carrying case that weighs just 27 pounds, so you can take it anywhere, any time. 

If you want to check out some of the other inflatable kayaks on the market check out our inflatable kayak buying guide here.`

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Features

  • Inflated size – 9 feet x 2 feet 6 inches x 1 foot 1 inch
  • Deflated size in case – 16 inches x 25 inches x 9 inches
  • Weight – 27.2 pounds
  • Weight capacity – 1 person 220 pounds 

Quality and safety certifications

The Intex Challenger K1 is compliant with the ISO 6185 international standard, and has been judged by the US National Marine Manufacturer’s Association to be in compliance with US Coast Guard and American Boat and Yacht Council standards. It is also TUV approved. 

What did we like about the construction?

  • Rugged vinyl material – The K1 is made out of a 30-gauge thick vinyl plastic which makes it resist punctures and abrasions, for reliable durability. 
  • Adjustable inflatable seat – The seat and integrated backrest are adjustable for additional comfort, and attach securely in place. 
  • Inflatable I-beam floor – The unique inflatable I-beam floor adds rigidity and comfort. 
  • Two air chambers – The two air chambers improve the rigidity, safety, and reliability of the kayak. 
  • Boston valves – Big, rugged Boston valves make inflation and deflation fast and easy. 

What did we like about the design?

  • High-visibility graphics – The colors of the Challenger K1 are attractive and sporty, but also highly visible for additional safety.
  • Removable skeg – The skeg provides directional stability, but it can be easily removed for shallow water conditions. 
  • Comfortable cockpit – The cockpit is designed for comfort and space, perfect for long excursions. 
  • Inflatable footrest – The Challenger K1 has an inflatable foot rest that fits into the nose of the kayak, for increased comfort. 
  • Cargo space – The cargo net keeps stored items conveniently accessible. The Challenger K1 also has space behind the seat back for additional storage, although that space is difficult to access while the kayak is in use. 
  • Low profile – The low profile of the Challenger K1 makes it perfect for lakes and mild rivers. 
  • Streamlined shape – The compact, streamlined shape of the Challenger K1 makes it easy to paddle. 
  • Grab line on both ends – The grab lines make it easy to handle the Challenger K1, and tie it to a dock or other boats. 

What else does it come with?

  • Repair patch kit – The included repair patch kit makes repairs fast and easy, and increases the longevity of the Challenger K1. 
  • Pump – The included high output pump makes inflation fast and easy. 
  • Carrying case – The included carrying case is made of sturdy canvas with rugged straps, and easily holds the kayak and all the accessories, including the paddle. 
  • Paddle – The included 86-inch aluminum paddle collapses into a smaller size for easy portability. 

How to use the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak comes with detailed setup and deflation instructions. Fill each valve in the order printed on the kayak itself, and use the included ruler to check each valve for the proper inflation. In warm weather, air will expand, so you may need to release a small amount of air to maintain proper pressure. 

YouTubers Van Kookz posted a detailed test and review of the Intex Challenger K1 that you can watch here:

This video includes a time lapse of their inflation and setup, which took just 5 minutes, and is easy to follow. They also took the Challenger K1 on whitewater rapids, which is not the recommended use of this kayak, but it performed well under rough conditions, which shows the durability and reliability of the Challenger K1. 

If you have concerns about the use, performance, setup, or reliability of the Challenger K1, this is a great video to watch, along with other YouTube videos that demonstrate using the kayak. 

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Pros

Extremely portable

Unlike traditional hardshell kayaks, the Challenger K1 is easy to pack and take anywhere, you won’t need a roof rack for the car, there’s no heavy lifting or complicated storage. It’s a great solution for people who only occasionally want to use a boat for excursions. 

Very easy to use

The Challenger K1 is nimble, lightweight, and simple to operate. Setup and deflation are fast and easy, using the kayak is intuitive and responsive, and it’s fun for the whole family. 

Durable construction

The rugged vinyl material of the Challenger K1 will withstand minor impacts and abrasions without leaking or puncturing. If it does get a leak though you can use the included repair patch that is very easy to apply.

Complete kit

The Challenger K1 comes with everything you need to start kayaking straight away. You get the kayak itself, seat and backrest, pump, repair patch kit, paddle, and carrying case, so it’s ready to hit the water right out of the box. 

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Cons

The paddle isn’t great

The paddle that comes with the Challenger K1, while being both portable and useful, isn’t the best. If you plan on using this kayak over the long term, for more than just a single summer, you may want to invest in an upgraded paddle. 

The seat back may be uncomfortable

Some people find the inflatable seat to not provide enough support for extended trips in the Challenger K1. If you require more support in your back, you may experience some discomfort. However, some people have worked out innovative support solutions using the empty space in the rear of the kayak behind the seat to prop it up and provide a little more support.

About the Intex brand

Intex Recreation was founded in 1966, and is a premier manufacturer of everything inflatable, from airbeds and above-ground pools, to toys and boats. Starting from the humble inflatable beach ball more than 50 years ago, the company now holds more than 30 patents and can be found in over 100 countries around the world. 

Because the company is based on inflatable products, they have decades of specialization in making inflatables that are rugged and durable, while also being fast and easy to inflate and deflate. They have innovative pumps, valves, and product experience that make their inflatable kayaks more reliable and more fun.  

Intex is also focused on preserving the environment by reducing their carbon footprint and use of fossil fuels, to help protect the natural landscape you enjoy. 

Related products you might need

As we’ve said, the K1 comes with everything you need to start kayaking instantly but there are a few additional products to consider to make your kayaking trip a little better.

Life jacket with storage

The Challenger K1 is a pretty small kayak with limited storage options. Since you need a personal flotation device anyway, a great solution is to combine a life vest with storage options. The ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is great for more than just fishing, with four different pockets, a lash tab, and even a drop down tray pocket to hold items for you. It has adjustable straps and a breathable mesh to dissipate heat. 

Upgrade the paddle

While the Challenger K1 comes with a paddle, it isn’t a great one. If you only plan on seasonal or occasional use of the inflatable kayak, the included paddle is perfectly adequate. But if you plan on using it for longer excursions or more frequently, you will probably want to upgrade the paddle. 

The Naviskin Kayak Paddles are a bit longer than the included Intex paddle, and are both sturdy and lightweight. They have two piece construction for easy transport and storage. The aluminum body is lightweight for less fatigue over long use, and they have a comfortable grip. They are a great alternative to the paddles that come with the Challenger K1. 

Intex Challenger K1 Alternatives

Intex Challenger K2

INTEX Challenger Inflatable Kayak Series: Includes Deluxe 86in Kayak Paddles and...
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INTEX Challenger Inflatable Kayak Series: Includes Deluxe 86in Kayak Paddles and...
  • INFLATABLE KAYAK: The Intex Challenger K2 2-person inflatable kayak has a 350 pound capacity making it great for boating or...
  • COMFORTABLE: Comfortable and spacious cockpit with inflatable seats and backrests and a cargo net to keep personal belongings in...
  • FEATURES: Inflatable I beam floor for comfort and rigidity, streamline design for easy paddling, grab lines on both ends, and made...

If you like the look, price and brand of the K1 but you think you might want to take a long a friend, child or just have a bit more room for supplies then you should check out the Intex Challenger K2. It’s almost exactly the same but just bigger, comes with a second seat and second paddle, plus it also has a larger weight capacity so can carry more stuff. It’s only slightly more expensive so it might be worth upgrading if you’re unsure.

Intex Explorer K2

Intex Explorer K2 2 Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Comfortable Backrest,...
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Intex Explorer K2 2 Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Comfortable Backrest,...
  • Outdoor 2-person watercraft kayak is made of rugged 30-gauge vinyl for stronger durability, ideal for lakes and mild rivers
  • Inflatable seats and backrests are adjustable for a comfortable ride and feature grab lines on both ends with a maximum weight...
  • Built with inflatable I-beam floors for stability and has a streamlined design for easy paddling and removable skeg that provides...

Another option staying with the Intex brand is the Intex Explorer K2. Again, it’s similar in a number of ways to the K1 but has a lot more space being a tandem kayak as well as a lot larger weight capacity as it’s able to hold up to 400lbs, almost double that of the Challenger K1. The only downside is that it all comes at an increased cost but is still very affordable and won’t break the bank. For more information check out our Intex Explorer K2 Kayak review here or click below.


Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Single Person Kayak Set and Accessory Kit with...
  • Kayak has a 220-pound capacity making it great for boating and fishing on lakes or mild rivers; Weighs 27 pounds and is U.S. Coast...
  • Comfortable and spacious cockpit with inflatable seats, backrests, and a cargo net to keep personal belongings in the boat;...
  • Inflatable I beam floor for comfort and rigidity, streamlined design for easy paddling, grab lines on both ends, and made of...

To sum up we think that the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a great inflatable kayak for enjoying lakes and mild rivers. It’s very easy to transport and fast to setup so you can be more spontaneous with your boating adventures, and the rugged design means that you can enjoy this fun, nimble kayak for longer than you may expect from an inflatable kayak.